Q: I would like to get legal guardianship of my niece with consent of her mother. Father can't be found. How do I do this?
I've been taken care of my niece for 3 years now with consent of the mother, my sister. She is willing to give me legal guardianship of her so that I am able to get her health coverage under my benefits. My sister is not able to care for her and has no job. The father can't be found and we only know of his last known county but can't find him. What kind of forms do we file and do we need to run a publication in the father's last know county
A: You seem to have a basic understanding of the process, but the devil is in the details. Basically, you will apply to the Juvenile Court in your area for a temporary guardianship of your niece (temporary only in the sense that it could be set aside by yourself or the biological mother/father in the event that there is a change of circumstances, not in the sense that there is a pre-set termination date). This will require you petitioning the court for said guardianship and obtaining the consent of both the biological mother and the biological father. If you cannot find the biological father, you will need to prove the same to the court and will then need to serve the father via publication. If the biological father still does not respond, then you will most likely be granted the guardianship via default. Understand, however, that this is a very complicated area of law, and I HIGHLY recommend that you speak with an experienced family law attorney in your area and seek their assistance in doing things the right way; one slip up could be disastrous for the child involved.
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